The Unexpected Player

I was reading a blog post on an economics blog, one I believe that I have linked before, and it got me thinking thanks to the form that the argument took. The basic argument didn’t excite me too much – it made me less sure, which is never a good feeling – but the central point was that stuff depended on whether the Aggregate Demand curve slopes down and that, although we generally think of it as downward sloping, we couldn’t actually be sure that it would.

Could the player be the Aggregate Demand curve? Or since the central bank is the milder of the AD curve, could the player be the Central Bank. I’m not talking about a super-literal sense where I’m talking about economic games. Instead I’m just considering a case where one knows what is expected, but where one cannot really be certain that one’s expectations could come true.

To get that in a computer game one needs to allow the butterfly wings of the unexpected to flap. Rather than, and at the moment I’m certainly guilty of it, when the player acts in an unexpected fashion to either say ‘no you can’t’ or to say ‘now you’re dead’. The very simple example I though of immediately with what I’m talking about is the breaking of bricks in Mario games. Platformers are not about changing your environment. I doubt there are (many) levels where the smashing of bricks is necessary, and a few more where they were pre-determined to help get goodies. Yet you’ve got many opportunities where one can try to be the Enviroment Master.

The second example is that in modern Action Adventure games one is surrounded by an invisible force preventing one from falling. In Dark Souls on the other hand they take these stabilisers off giving the player a greater range of how to get to point A and point B. Indeed I think the metaphor of stabilisers is a good one.

Of course these can go too far as shown by the example of -the two examples other show I’m not monomaniacal right? – the original generation Pokemon games. The buggy ness of the games give players the ability to go to places never dreamt of. Did these add anything to the mechanics? No. Did these add anything to the adventure? No. Did these add anything to the game? Yes actually*.

*And not just because I caught Mew. Although, I did.

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